Wonderful Women Wednesday: Margaret Simmons Vining

Each week, the Archives features a woman who has been a groundbreaker at the Smithsonian, past or present, in a series titled Wonderful Women Wednesday.

Margaret Simmons Vining was a museum specialist and later curator of armed forces history at the National Museum of American History from 1983 until her death in 2018.

One woman and two men view a wall in an exhibit at a museum. The wall appears to be made of stone.

In addition to curating major exhibitions and building the division’s collections, she founded and supervised the Smithsonian Archive of Women’s Military History. Together with her longtime collaborator and life partner curator Dr. Barton C. Hacker, Vining established the Margaret S. Vining and Barton C. Hacker Fellowship in Women's Military History at the Smithsonian. 

Additionally, Vining served as the executive secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Women’s Council, an organization founded to advocate for women employees at the Institution. 

Vining co-edited numerous publications on military history, including A Right to Bear Arms? The Contested Role of History in Contemporary Debates on the Second Amendment (2019), A Companion to Women’s Military History (2012), and Science in Uniform, Uniforms in Science (2007).

She earned her master’s degree in museum studies from the George Washington University in 1982. 

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